Is your press release dead? Here’s how to give it CPR

26.03.19 Press Release

You gave it your all. You wrote an ‘impressive’ press release in inverted pyramid style. You included ‘fantastic’ quotes and key information. You couldn’t have done a better job, you think – but the press release was still dead. 

It happens.

Getting a press release out in the wild isn’t easy, because there’s so much news out there, especially in the Internet age we live in now. Sometimes you get caught in the wilderness and find no way to dig yourself out.

Here’s how you can give your press release some CPR to spark buzz in the wilderness.

Craft a hook

If you’ve ever had a song stuck in your head, you know what a great hook is. It’s that chorus or beat that you just can’t shake. Just like in pop music, a great hook is key to success in reviving your press release writing techniques.

To find your hook, spend time before you start writing your release researching the press releases and blog posts of industry competitors, gathering information about which releases and posts have received significant coverage. Use these successes as a guideline for your own release, with an eye toward what types of content your audience is reacting to and/or sharing.

A great hook pulls journalists into a remarkable story. It engages their curiosity and makes them crazy to find out more. At MediaHQ, our News Diary feature helps organisations find that story hook that will make their press releases stand out.

Infuse some emotion in your headline

Journalists glance through dozens of press releases daily, so it’s no surprise they don’t read them all.

A strong headline makes a huge difference. It must clearly describe what the news release is about, but it mustn’t be boring. Use clear, simple words and avoid the passive. Keep it short and straight to the point. If you want precision, then think like a blogger. Infuse some emotion in the headline. Your goal is to gain people’s interest so lead with a concept, not your brand name. Your audience (both readers and journalists) probably don’t care about your brand or company name, but they do care about finding a good story – draw them in with a compelling concept.

Don’t be repetitive

Traditional rules for writing a press release told you to write a descriptive headline and expand on it in the first paragraph. That doesn’t work for today’s readers. Their attention span will not deal with repetitiveness – unless you’re a big brand like Nike or Coca-Cola. To give that press release some CPR, think of it this way: the first paragraph should be a continuation of the headline. It should get to the point straight away, but without repeating the same info.

Only add a quote if it’s necessary

When writing a press release, the common practice is to include a statement from someone in senior management or a key stakeholder.  That doesn’t mean throwing in a random statement that makes no sense. Ask the key person a precise question and don’t be afraid to edit the quote if it sounds like rambling. You’ll get this person’s approval on the edits before you publish.

If you don’t have a good quote, it’s best not to include one at all.

Avoid jargon

When writing a killer press release, remember to minimise technical or industry jargon. Although relevant for certain professionals or groups, jargon may confuse journalists and turn them off to your message.

To engage journalists or new readers who may not be as skilled in industry language, write for a broader audience and increase the likelihood the content is shared. Keep it simple, and don’t be afraid to offer explanatory resources if some industry or brand-specific names or words are needed.

Know the power of local

If your organisation is based in Co. Mayo, you’re far more likely to get coverage from the Mayo media than from television or radio or print media in upstate Dublin. That’s because readers like to read about people who are like them, and reporters are tasked with finding those people.

The local angle is so powerful that it might even trump the newsy angle, meaning your local media might want to write about your organisation just because you have some connection to that area. One thing though, don’t forget to mention your local ties in your press release when you’re targeting local media.

At MediaHQ, we have a very easy filing system divided into three categories of lists – National, Regional and Specialist. This makes it easy to target local media with your press releases.

Do you always give up on your press release before you even send it out? Do you have the right journalists to send it out to? MediaHQ is a database of media contacts which features over 6,000 journalists. We’ve shared over 198,796 stories from Ireland’s best brands. Click here or call Gaye on (01) 2541845 to find out more.